Canada Must Do More to Protect Hong Kong: Conservatives

May 26, 2020 Updated: May 27, 2020

Conservative leader Andrew Scheer is calling for Canada to organize an international coalition to protect Hong Kong and counter the Chinese regime’s aggressive push for more control over the autonomous region.

During question period in the House of Commons on May 25, Scheer quizzed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on whether Canada will condemn the Chinese regime’s new national security law it aims to impose on Hong Kong and in what way Canada plans to support the city.

“The government of China has launched an unprecedented attack on the rights and freedoms of the people of Hong Kong. Now this [Canadian] government should go beyond statements and should act in concert with our allies to show the government of China they must abide by their commitments,” Scheer said.

Mass protests erupted in Hong Kong this week in opposition to Beijing’s proposal for a tough new “national security” law that was presented at the Chinese regime’s rubber-stamp legislature on May 22—bypassing the Hong Kong legislative council.

The move was met with international criticism as critics argued that the law would undermine Hong Kong’s autonomy and freedoms, which the Chinese regime promised to preserve after the city’s sovereignty was handed over by Britain to China in 1997.

When Scheer accused the Liberal government of not doing enough to counter the Chinese regime at this critical time, Trudeau reiterated “deep concern” about Beijing’s actions and the need for a “de-escalation of tensions.”

“We stand with the people in Hong Kong who believe that freedom of expression and freedom of assembly continue to be an essential part of their way of life,” he said. 

Trudeau noted a May 22 joint statement issued by Canada, the U.K. and Australia expressing concern that the proposed security law “would clearly undermine the ‘one country, two systems’ principle under which Hong Kong is guaranteed a high degree of autonomy.”

Canada-China Committee Voted Down

A motion moved by Conservative MP Garnett Genuis on May 25 to convene the Commons Canada-China committee to hold urgent hearings on Hong Kong through remote sessions was defeated by the Liberals and NDP. 

Genuis called the defeat “very disappointing” and a “real step backwards,” but said committee members would continue looking for opportunities to support Hong Kong.  

“We’re going to continue to stand strong and to call for meaningful accountability and to call for a thoughtful and serious response to the security challenges and human rights challenges presented by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) regime,” he said in an interview with The Epoch Times.

Genuis noted the potential effectiveness of coordinated international action, using the example of condemnation and sanctions against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea. 

The Beijing regime will not back down on power grabs unless their actions are effectively challenged through a similar coordinated response, he said.

The regime “has an aggressive plan to advance their position in violation of international law—We see it in Hong Kong, we see it in the South China Sea, we see it in some of the aspects of neo-colonialism in Asia and Africa,” Genuis said.

“Every time this regime is able to get away with it, they’re going to continue and escalate their push, so we have to demonstrate our seriousness if we want to deter further aggression,” he explains. 

“And if we don’t do that, in the case of Hong Kong, it’s not as if it’s going to stop … until we show the resolve and have the organization to really have meaningful consequences in terms of cooperation, relationships, that stem from these kinds of actions. That response needs to be coordinated among allies. But it needs to be a serious and strong response.”

China Flouting Human Rights Standards

Speaking in the House on May 25, Conservative MP David Sweet said Canadians are becoming more aware of and concerned about the dubious actions of the CCP, noting the issue is now “probably what I hear most from my constituents.” 

That’s why, he said, the work of the Canada-China committee is vital, and emphasized the committee’s recent report on the Chinese regime’s five main human rights victims as examples: Uyghur Muslims, Tibetans, Christians, Falun Gong practitioners, and all Chinese people living under oppressive communist rule. 

“These examples underscore the long, consistent, and deliberate pattern of the CCP in flouting any acceptable international standards of human rights,” Sweet said. 

The report outlines several shocking human rights atrocities in China, such as the incarceration and torture of 1.5-3 million Uyghur minority Muslims in “re-education” camps, the severe religious and ethnic persecution of Tibetans, and harassment and random arrests of Christians. 

The report also notes the ongoing persecution campaign against Falun Gong practitioners in China, including illegal organ harvesting detailed by Canadian human rights activists David Kilgour and David Matas.   

“Those who practice Falun Gong in China face harsh persecution at the hands of the CCP and its police forces. If arbitrary arrests, forced labour, and torture weren’t enough, we’ve had witness testimony at the sub-committee on international human rights of organ harvesting,” said Sweet. 

“Think about that: detaining Falun Gong, imprisoning them arbitrarily, torturing them to death, and then harvesting their organs for sale.”

Sweet also emphasized, as noted in the report, that all Chinese people living under the regime are suffering due to a lack of basic freedoms and human rights, tight control and surveillance, and fear of retribution for speaking out.  

With the CCP’s consistent history of brutality, the recent developments in Hong Kong should be of “major concern” to Canadians and free democracies, he said. 

“While the world has been preoccupied by COVID-19, China’s been cracking down on Hong Kong hoping no one will notice. … We are witnessing the end of the one country, two systems agreement. We are witnessing the end of Hong Kong,” Sweet said. 

“The response from the Liberal government has been acquiescence and naivete. Canada must do more than just hope for dialoguewe must act now.” 

With reporting by Omid Ghoreishi